“My Favorite Album” is a weekly column in which we ask a musician exactly what the title suggests — to name their favorite album of all time. This week, it's Art Alexakis, founding member of alt-rockers Everclear.
It Takes a Nation Of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam/Columbia)
One of my favorite rock & roll albums of all time is not really a rock & roll record at all. It is a seminal hip-hop record that came out 31 years ago. It communicates and celebrates the swagger, the theatrics, the fuck you attitude and all of the danger that is inherent in all great rock & roll. And there isn’t one emaciated white guy anywhere in the picture … far from it.
From the fade in of noise on the opening track, this album keeps defining and redefining itself, while assaulting the world around it with noise, groove, innovative melodies, funky dissonance, and above all the intellect and bombast of Chuck D’s voice and words. When Nation came out, it didn’t sound like any other record. The production team known as the Bomb Squad crafted together beats, samples of music from classics to contemporary, as well as political black-centric statements and snippets that set the stage for each song.
The way this record flows seemed so different and unique, yet it feels so natural at the same time. It builds and falls, rages and chills. There’s anger and comedy, intelligent articulation, and punk rage that happens sometimes in the same song. There are the hits that are still bangers and anthems to this day (“Don’t Believe The Hype” and “Bring The Noise”) and fan faves that still influence and inspire (“Night Of The Living Baseheads” and “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”).
Yes, it is theatrical and camp, heavy handed at times, and super controversial politically, but just like every great record, it causes you to feel multiple emotions at the same time, while taking you to a place you’ve never been before … whether you like it or not.
Art Alexakis plays at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 at The Rose.
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